The Golf Club (Xbox One) Review
Ryan Bloom / Aug 27th, 2014 1 Comment
Last year, EA Sports shocked the golf world when the company announced it was ending its 15-year relationship with Tiger Woods. Perhaps more shocking was the revelation that EA would not release a golf game at all in 2014. Enter The Golf Club.
Developed by HB Studios, a Canada-based studio that helped create previous installments of the Tiger Woods PGA Tour franchise, The Golf Club takes a different approach to golf gaming. There is no PGA license, but The Golf Club doesn’t need it. Instead of featuring history’s most famous golfers and courses, The Golf Club focuses on the most important golfer: the player.
Experiencing games with friends is always more fun than playing alone, but online multiplayer involves scheduling time to play and waiting in lobbies. The Golf Club eliminates the hassle of online gaming, opting for a more social approach.
Rather than actually playing against friends in online matches, players take on ghost versions of their friends. That means golfers will be able to compare scores throughout a course without actually playing at the same time as competitors. Players can opt for the classic turn-based gameplay, but taking on ghost opponents greatly reduces the time investment required to play a full 18 holes.
The drop-in/drop-out approach to sports gaming is revolutionary, but The Golf Club is much more than a typical sports game. The game’s social theme also applies to its unique course creator, an innovative way to allow users to experience an unlimited number of courses.
Using a system that feels surprisingly comfortable on a controller, players can put together fully customizable courses. The process allows gamers to be as involved as possible or simply tweak a randomly generated course. Courses can be shared with the entire community, with the highest rated being the easiest to find. While developers created official courses, The Golf Club invites its players to help in the development of the game, and there are limitless possibilities when creating courses.
The Sixth Sense
The Golf Club is simple to pick up and play but difficult to perfect. There are no meters to time; instead, controls are based on feel. This can be frustrating for gamers who are used to video game golf. Unless you have experience with real-life golf, you will be at a disadvantage. Controls can be mastered over time, but courses are difficult to account for.
A HUD provides data about the hole and wind conditions, but there is little information about the course. This makes putting especially difficult as it is nearly impossible to account for break just by using the naked eye. HUD placement is customizable, but the interface makes this a vexing task of trial and error.
The HUD is not the only annoyance when it comes to the menus. Exploring courses is not user friendly, but the game offsets this by making top-rated courses and courses created by friends easy to find. The user interface, which is similar to the Xbox One home screen, encourages players to explore, but the boring menu music puts users to sleep.
One Size Fits All
The game’s course creator provides endless possibilities, but that concept doesn’t carry over to character creation. Characters are barely customizable, with only a few options for clothes and facial features. Players never feel like they are able to create a character that is truly their own.
Players are not able to level up or improve their characters’ skills. While this puts all competitors on an even playing field, it also gives gamers little incentive to continue playing. For a game that lacks the PGA license, developing engaging characters is important, but The Golf Club falls short.
At times, The Golf Club feels like an unfinished product. Menus are frustratingly basic and character customization barely exists. However, there is so much potential for players to tap into if they are willing to invest some time in The Golf Club. There is an unlimited amount of courses to tee off on thanks to a robust course creator and multiplayer gameplay is easy to jump right into.
As a full-fledged $60 title, the golf sim would be easy to pass over, but as a cheaper digital game, there is plenty of value in The Golf Club.
tags: HB Studios , review , the golf club , The Golf Club Review